Take your health and beauty to the next level with superfoods!
[social_buttons]From dietitians to raw food gurus, superfoods have been promoted as the fountain of health and youth.
While I can’t vouch for the fountain of health and youth claim, I have experienced the extra vitality that comes from eating these nutrient-dense foods.
There is no formal definition for the term superfoods, but they are generally described as being especially nutritious, with bio-active compounds and special health benefits not available from other foods. Superfoods are the foods with high levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants, and they possess a superior nutritional profile.
Adding some of these foods into your diet is one more way to support your body’s natural health and beauty.
Ten Superfoods for Health and Beauty
- Goji Berries: Also known as wolfberries, goji berries contain all 8 essential amino acids, are packed with vitamin C, trace minerals, and are revered in Asia as a powerful healing food. They are available dried (they look like red raisins), and taste similar to a cranberry/cherry mix. Goji berries have been called one of the most nutrient rich fruits on earth.
- Cacao Nibs: Nibs are pieces of cacao beans, pictured above, the source of cocoa powder, and contain large amounts of magnesium, as well as having the highest antioxidant concentration of any food. Cacao nibs are unsweetened, somewhat unusual in taste and can be found in better health food stores.
- Spirulina: A blue-green algae prized by the Aztec, spirulina is 60% protein in a highly digestible form. It is a great source of B12, iron, beta-carotene, and GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), and lutein. It boosts energy levels and supports the immune system. Available as a powder or capsule, spirulina is a great addition to a smoothie or sprinkled on a salad.
- Chlorella: This single-celled algae is packed with chlorophyll, enzymes, and anti-oxidants. Chlorophyll is high in protein and calcium and is a potent detoxifier. The most recommended form of chlorella is “broken-cell”, which increases the availability of the nutrients, and is available in tablets, capsules, or powder. For an in-depth look at both spirulina and chlorella, read Superfoods for Optimum Health (free online).
- Coconut Oil: The oil (or butter) of coconuts is not the same as cocoa butter (from cacao). Coconut oil is a saturated fat with anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, and can be used just like butter in recipes. Coconut stimulates the thyroid and helps to lower cholesterol. It is a superb bodycare moisturizer. Try using it for lotion, lip balm, and a pre-wash conditioner for your hair.
- Hemp Seeds: These protein-packed seeds possess a great essential fatty acid profile, and are now found in everything from energy bars to hempmilk. Unfortunately, the US does not discriminate between hemp and marijuana, so growing it for food and fiber in this country is illegal. It typically comes to us from Canada, and hulled hemp seeds and hemp oil can be found in most health food stores.
- Kombucha Tea: A cultured tea known to the ancient Chinese as the Immortal Health Elixir, kombucha can be grown at home from a mother, or “scoby”. Kombucha is also available in bottled form in many flavors. It is definitely an aquired taste, one that you either love or hate.
- Miso: Miso is made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley, and is a live food rich in vitamins and minerals. Add miso to soups or salad dressings, or use it to marinate vegetables. Many variations of miso are sold, so try several to fnd the one you like.
- Bee Pollen: This should actually be known as flower pollen, but honeybees are the ones to gather it, so we call it bee pollen. It is the male seed of flowers, and is known as a fertility food. Eating local pollen every day is said help alleviate allergies, and the highly assimilable protein is both healing and energizing. Blend into a smoothie or just eat a spoonful for a pick-me-up.
- Mushrooms: Shiitake, reishi, and maitake are probably the most well known medicinal edible mushrooms, but many more are available through companies such as New Chapter. Mycomedicinals is the name for mushroom compounds with healing properties. For a superfood sauté, slice up fresh shiitake mushrooms and sweet peppers, cook with miso and shoyu sauce, and serve it with brown rice.
Add a new one to your diet every so often and find the superfoods that work for you.
Image: Hulagway at Flickr under Creative Commons